"Putting the Brakes on Philly's Death Penalty," is David Love's latest essay at Huffington Post. Here's an extended excerpt from the beginning of this must-read:
Witness to Innocence is a national organization originally founded as a project of Sister Helen Prejean of the book Dead Man Walking. Our mission is to empower exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones to become leaders in the death penalty abolition movement. We provide a support network for our members, each of whom spent an average of 10 years on death row for a crime they did not commit.
WTI members speak to audiences throughout the country about their experiences on death row, testify before state legislatures, work with state abolition groups and change hearts and minds in the process. WTI has been involved in successful death penalty repeal efforts in six states over six years.
In Maryland, my advocacy director Kirk Bloodsworth and I stood with Gov. Martin O'Malley as he signed the state's death penalty repeal bill into law. We stood with abolitionists and Democratic and Republican lawmakers in Annapolis who realize the death penalty doesn't work. The government should not be in the business of killing people, and we oppose executions under any circumstances. Capital punishment is expensive, and discriminates against the poor and people of color. And most of all, innocent people are put to death.
So, why are we here? WTI decided to convene the Philadelphia Moratorium Campaign, a diverse coalition of religious leaders, human rights and civil liberties organizations, prisoners' rights groups, legal defense organizations, community groups and others.
We are calling on Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams to place a moratorium on death penalty prosecutions in this city. In addition, we are planning a public outreach campaign, in which death row exonerees will go out to the communities in this city, talk to the people and to lawmakers and educate them about the problems with the death penalty.
Once again, why are we here today? We are here because Pennsylvania is a leader in the death penalty. About 200 people are on death row, fourth behind California, Florida and Texas.
Earlier commentary from David Love begins at the link.